A new chapter in the history of the Hoover High wrestling program has begun.
After previously coaching wrestling in Tennessee and Illinois, Tyler Claxton has headed west to reshape Hoover.
Claxton built programs from the ground up as his previous destinations and finds himself in a similar situation with the Tornadoes.
“Wrestling is big in Tennessee and Illinois, and here, too,” said Claxton, who was hired in September and takes over for Dave Beard, who held the position the past six seasons. “I’ve built programs in that time that were small and made them big in terms of numbers and having some successful athletes.
“It’s very exciting to take over a program. Right now, we’re just looking for improvement and find out a little more about who we are. We’ll get there.”
Hoover, which competes in the Rio Hondo League with La Cañada, Monrovia, San Marino and South Pasadena, will be in CIF Southern Section Division IV. San Marino won the league championship last season.
The Tornadoes will look vastly new, though several athletes return looking to build off last season.
One athlete who made quite an impression was girls’ wrestler Sarine Mardirosian, who is now a sophomore in the 101-pound class.
Mardirosian, the program’s lone female athlete, enjoyed a stellar campaign a season ago. She advanced to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet, falling in the first round of the consolation bracket at Roosevelt High.
Claxton said Mardirosian will provide leadership.
“She’s very committed to getting better and helping out her teammates,” Claxton said. “I think she’s very capable of having another excellent season.”
For the boys, Hoover, which finished fourth in league last season, is lacking a bit in depth and Claxton will look to fill out the lineup as soon as possible.
Hoover will bring back senior Luis Socito, who will compete in the 120-pound class. He will be joined by sophomore Julio Bermudez (182) and freshman Jiro Danetaras (138).
Hoover will not have senior Andrew West, who suffered an injury and is out for the season.
“I definitely think we have some talent here and it’s just going to be about getting down the basics,” Claxton said. “We’d like to send at least a couple of our athletes to the Masters Meet.”